by Marcus Walker
Wall Street Journal
March 23, 2015
German Chancellor Angela Merkel hosted Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras at the leaders’ first bilateral summit on Monday, against a backdrop of open antipathy between the two nations’ politicians, media and publics. The purpose of the meeting was partly to defuse the tensions and prevent public acrimony from impeding the search for a way to keep Greece financially liquid and inside the euro. Here’s what the two leaders sought to convey on Monday, and the challenge that still faces them.
1. Personal Chemistry
Both leaders are calm, level-headed politicians. They’re unlikely to fall out and complain about each other like their finance ministers, the irascible Wolfgang Schäuble and the mercurial Yanis Varoufakis. But cool temperaments can’t hide a political gulf. The differences between Ms. Merkel and Mr. Tsipras remain vast as their joint press conference made clear. From war reparations to the conditions of Greece’s bailout funding, disagreements between Athens and Berlin haven’t been this big since the debt crisis began over five years ago.